Photo of Kevin McNamara

Kevin McNamara is Chair of the firm’s Immigration Practice and is based in the Boston office. He has decades of experience in immigration and nationality law, and focuses on employment-based immigration matters. He is an honorary member of the Association of Fellows and Legal Scholars of the Center for International Legal Studies.

In another example of increased restriction on the rights of non-U.S. Citizens, on Thursday, April 27, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) published a policy memorandum limiting the privacy rights of immigrants and foreign nationals under the Federal Privacy Act of 1974.  This new guidance was issued to bring DHS policy in line with President Trump’s January 25 executive order.

The Privacy Act was established to govern the collection, maintenance, use and dissemination of personally-identifiable information maintained by federal agencies.  The Privacy Act, with specific exceptions, prohibits disclosure of such records without the consent of the individual.  It also provides individuals a means to access and amend their records.

Previous DHS guidance stated that such personally-identifiable information would be treated the same, regardless of citizenship.  However, consistent with the January 25 executive order, the new guidance provides that immigrants and nonimmigrant foreign nationals may not utilize these provisions and may only access their information through a request made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Additionally, they may not request amendments of their records.  Furthermore, in connection with the new guidance, DHS stated that it permits the sharing of such information about immigrants and nonimmigrant foreign nationals from agency records with federal, state and local law enforcement.

In response to the current Administration’s “citizen-centric” policies, we are seeing an increased interest in applications for naturalization by U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents.

USCIS announced on April 7, 2017, that it has received enough H-1B petitions to reach the statutory cap of 65,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2018. USCIS also received more than the limit of 20,000 H-1B petitions filed under the U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

The agency will reject and return filing fees for all unselected cap-subject petitions that are not duplicate filings.

Stay tuned for additional updates regarding the FY18 cap lottery selection.

Please contact an attorney with Mintz Levin’s Immigration Practice to discuss any questions you may have about H-1B sponsorship or alternatives to the H-1B visa.

Update –  NEW BOSTON EVENT DATE: Due to safety concerns surrounding the recent snow storm, Mintz Levin rescheduled the Boston Immigration Seminar to Thursday, March 2. To register, please click here or see below. We hope you can join us!

On February 9th (Boston) and February 16th (New York), our very own Kevin McNamaraSusan Cohen, and Bill Coffman will lead a live seminar designed for in-house counsel, immigration specialists, HR professionals, talent managers, and other internal stakeholders to review changes affecting the hiring and continued employment of foreign nationals. Topics will include:

  • Worksite visit preparation
  • Record-keeping requirements
  • The new Form I-9 and the importance of E-Verify compliance
  • How to prepare for increased scrutiny at a US port of entry
  • New high-skilled worker regulations
  • Strategies and alternatives for H-1B visa cap and prospects for FY 2018

Don’t miss this important event.  For additional details and registration, please contact Cassie Bent at CMBent@mintz.com!

From:  Ned Help

To:  Carrie Counselor

Subject: It’s been great working with you!

Carrie:

I’m writing to inform you that I am being transferred to our Rio de Janeiro office next month for a twelve month assignment.  It’s a bit daunting, but I am confident that the help you have provided me in establishing policies and practices that will serve my interests and the interests of the company. Continue Reading Innocents Abroad: Employer Considerations When Sending Employees on International Assignments or Business Travel

From:       Ned Help

To:            Carrie Counselor

Subject:    Scope of Permitted Activity as a Business Traveler

Carrie:

At 4:50 p.m. today, one of our top software developers, Ben Bedraggled, stumbled into my office.  He dropped his suitcase and computer bag on the floor and slumped into a chair looking like he had been on an airplane for about 24 hours – it turns out this was about right. Continue Reading Innocents Abroad: Business Traveler Troubles

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015” into law. On January 21, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) began implementing changes to the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”). There are two main changes to the program: individuals who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria since March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions) and/or are dual nationals of one of those countries and a VWP country are, with limited exceptions, no longer eligible for the VWP. However, these individuals may apply for a nonimmigrant visitor’s visa at a US consular post abroad, where they will be subject to the normal vetting process for US visas. Continue Reading CBP releases FAQ on Visa Waiver Program: Rule Changes

This is part 2 of our analysis of the proposed rule published by DHS on December 30, 2015, addressing and extending employment flexibility for certain classes of nonimmigrants and prospective immigrants.

Proposed Rule Focus: Nonimmigrant Visas and EADs

In the previous post we focused on the potential benefits and consolidation of current policy for individuals already in the permanent residency process. This post will focus on the proposed policies for nonimmigrant visa holders who are not currently sponsored for an immigrant visa and employment authorization document changes. Many of the details in the proposed rule are currently executed under individual memos or practice. This rule addresses several of individually small issues, but taken together is intended to constitute an overall policy of increased flexibility and fairness in the U.S. job market for immigrant and nonimmigrant workers. Continue Reading DHS Proposes New Rule for Increased Job Flexibility: Part 2

On December 31st, the Department of Homeland Security issued a proposed rule addressing and extending employment flexibility for certain classes of nonimmigrants and prospective immigrants. The new rule proposes to amend current regulations to “clarify and improve longstanding agency policies” related to provisions in both the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 (“AC21”) and the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998 (“ACWIA”). When implemented, the rule has the potential to provide a clear adjudication system for USCIS and benefits for foreign nationals who would like more flexibility in the U.S. job market. While actual implementation is historically varied, we are cautiously optimistic that this rule will provide more standardized guidance for petition and application adjudication at the service centers. This post will examine the benefits for individuals who are already in the permanent residency process. Continue Reading DHS Proposes New Rule for Increased Job Flexibility: Part 1

Exciting news from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State (DOS) this week. The agencies announced that beginning with the visa bulletin effective October 1, 2015, USCIS will accept for filing I-485 applications to adjust status to Permanent Resident according to a separate filing date chart.

Continue Reading USCIS To Accept Certain I-485/AOS Applications Before Priority Date Becomes Current